Different Types of Gutter Guards for Worry-Free Gutters

Types Of Gutter Guards: A Guide to Keeping Your Gutters Clean

Keeping your gutters clean of debris is part of home ownership. Not only does it save you time and money by keeping to a cleaning schedule it also helps you avoid any serious problems down the road. Clogged gutters can back up water and place unneeded stress along your roof edges. It also can freeze, creating ice dams that can work their way up under roofing materials to create leaks and other unsightly and dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, keeping your gutters clean is, well, a pain to put it bluntly. Climbing up and down ladders, reaching and pulling can also be dangerous. This is why you should seriously consider placing gutter guards in your gutters. The best gutter guards are the ones that fit your existing gutters, are within your budget, and work for your specific climate needs to keep them relatively free of debris.

The Different Types of Gutter Guards

Basically, there are only three categories of guards available, which can be broken into 5 types of designs: Filtering, Blocking, and Reverse Curve systems. These all are very effective, but not all will necessarily work with your existing gutter.

Brushes

A gutxter brush placed in the gutter with dried leaves on top of the gutter brush

Brush guards are made of heavy bristles shaped like a ‘bottle-brush’ and are placed within the gutter themselves to block accumulations of larger debris. Water and small, accumulated debris are allowed to pass freely through them, while large debris blows away or are easy to remove by hand if accumulation is seen. These also help keep snow from compacting into the gutters and allow them to melt and run off.

Installation Process

You could pay somebody to place these in your gutter, but they are seriously easy to install on your own. Simply measure and place your lengths directly in the gutter. If a length is too long it can be folded over.

Life Expectancy

These are not necessarily a long term solution as over time debris may begin to crust up on the bristles, making them ineffective to water flow. They are designed to last around 5 years under heavy use and proper care.

Pros

  • Fast and easy value solution
  • Easy to install
  • Provides excellent water passage

Cons

  • Not a long term solution
  • Debris may become stuck on brush over time

Foam

Porous foam polyurethane blocks are set directly into the gutter. The small opening allows water to flow freely through it and along the gutter. Debris is kept out of the gutter and collect along the top to blow away once dried, or for easy removal when a build up occurs. This also keeps snow from accumulating into the gutter and allows it to melt and flow through as it warms.

Installation Process

Strips of foam are easy to set into the gutter without much effort. Simply cut pieces that are too long.

Life Expectancy

These are a fairly temporary solution that may not work as well in winter and need to be removed before reapplication in the spring. Over time they also may dry out and become brittle, making them a good solution for around 2 to 3 years max.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Great value
  • Fast, simple solution

Cons

  • Shingle granules may pass through and collect along the bottom of the gutter
  • Will freeze in cold weather and may disrupt water flow
  • May promote moss growth

Perforated

Contractor adjusting plastic gutter guards to get them to fit.

These guards are typically a sheet of metal or PVC with diamond or square shaped perforations that fit under the shingles and cover the gutter. As water and debris flow down the roof, water is able to pass through to the gutter, while leaves, needles, and other debris are caught along the top to blow away when dried. They are easy to clean when accumulations occur as well.

Installation Process

Although you can have these professionally installed, they are very easy to self-install as well. You just need to be sure to slide them under the shingles without lifting and creating damage.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last for many years as long as they are maintained. The materials they are made out of are weather friendly, but aluminum will provide a longer life span compared to PVC- which may eventually become brittle.

Pros

  • Fairly inexpensive and long lasting
  • Popular and easy to find
  • Easy to install with care

Cons

  • Materials can get caught in the opening, causing water to run over the top rather than into the gutter
  • Requires a regular clean out in heavy debris areas

Mesh Screens

Mesh-screens are made of superfine metal mesh guards that keep debris from running into the gutter and prevents shingle granule runoff from entering the gutter as well. These are designed to fit snug over the gutter and tight against the edge of the roof, and provide easy access to clean the tops of accumulation occurs.

Installation Process

Typically needs to be professionally installed through a dealer of the product. They must be set properly over your gutter to avoid gaps, bending, and a loose fit.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last a lifetime with proper cleaning and maintenance care, but can easily erode and rust when not cared for.

Pros

  • Practically debris proof- very secure
  • Long life
  • Great for rainwater collecting

Cons

  • The small mesh may allow a large amount of water to overshoot the gutter
  • Without cleaning, sludge can build up

Reverse-Curve

This design has been around for a long time to help keep gutters relatively debris free. These metal curves cover fit up under your shingles and then curve over and downwards over the gutter. Water follows this curve to run through the gutter, while leaves and debris flow straight off the edge. The design keeps critters from entering the gutter as well to build nests. Snow is also able to easily flow off the guard.

Installation Process

These are typically purchased by an authorized dealer and require professional installment. Some DIY options may exist, but may not last as long or pull away from the roof if not properly secured.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last a long time with proper installation and the occasional cleanout of debris that may work their way in and not wash out.

Pros

  • Seamless and well sealed
  • Designed to blend in with roofline
  • Effective and proven

Cons

  • High volumes of water may not make it into the gutter
  • Can be difficult to access inside of gutter when needed

Buying Guide Considerations

With the explanation of the types of guards you may purchase above, you will want to consider a few details before committing to one certain type. Take into account the following to help you choose which would be best for you.

House Location

Extremely colorful classic restored house with beautiful landscaping in a rural city.

Where is your house located? Is it out in the open and away from heavy leaf and needle debris? Or is it under heavy timber? The type of debris that is likely to fall upon your house and wash into your gutters should be a major detail to consider.

Climate

Are you in a relatively dry climate that receives little no rainfall, or are you living where you have steady, year-round moisture? Are your rainstorms heavy, or moderate and consistent? Do you get a lot of snow, or is it cold for long periods of time? Choose guards that can properly handle the climate and whether you receive.

Length to be Laid

How much butter do you need to cover? If you have a budget this may determine the types of guards you are considering.

Vertical Rise

Large suburban home with front porch and arched entry

Do you have a second story? A third? Gutter guards require much less maintenance than if you don’t have one, but they still require some annual care. Think about what will be most effective to avoid having to care for them more than you absolutely need to- especially if you have multiple stories.

Installation Options

If you are a DIY type person, you may want to look at those options that are easy to install on your own- just remember they are not often as long lasting as those that are professionally installed.

Conclusion

If you have been contemplating gutter guards then this is the guide to help steer you in the right direction. There are a few tried and true styles from which you can choose- no matter what your budget is. Of course, you always need to take into account your specific gutter needs in relation to house location and climate, but you have multiple options to pick from.

A gutter guard is a great way to save on maintenance time and money over time and is well worth the investment. We’d love to hear which styles are your favorite and your experiences with each below. And, as always, please share!

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